Wi-Fi Alliance Introduces Wi-Fi HaLow Tech for Internet of Things

A new low-power, long-range version of Wi-Fi that bolsters Internet of Things (IoT) connections will be dubbed Wi-Fi HaLow (pronounced "halo")—and it will be used in coming years for everything from smart homes and wearables to smart cities and connected cars where thousands of battery-operated sensors can be connected to a single Wi-Fi Access Point.

Wi-Fi HaLow is a new standard introduced by the Wi-Fi Alliance specifically to address the smart home, wearable and connected car markets where to date Wi-Fi has been almost completely absent due to its high power demands. According to the Alliance, "Wi-Fi HaLow operates in frequency bands below 1GHz, offering longer range, lower power connectivity," which make it perfect for markets including smart home products, connected cars and digital healthcare, as well as industrial, retail, agriculture and smart city environments.

As well as offering almost twice the range of today's Wi-Fi standards, Wi-Fi HaLow also promises to more easily penetrate walls in "challenging environments," which could give it a significant advantage over Bluetooth, said PC World. By operating at the 900MHz frequency, Wi-Fi HaLow may offer better range than traditional Wi-Fi standards and Bluetooth, but it won't be able to upload huge amounts of data quickly, as it is designed to offer small and occasional updates.

"Wi-Fi HaLow has a foot in both the consumer and business markets," said Kevin Robinson, vice president of marketing for the Wi-Fi Alliance. "In a smart city, you may want to connect smart parking meters to a centralized access point. The low-power capability for nodes and access points means less power to send transmissions, which means the devices can sweep longer, which is important for a smoke detector or a leak detector. Wi-Fi HaLow will allow devices to run for months or years on their batteries."

Essentially, this is Wi-Fi's answer to Bluetooth, said The Verge. HaLow is supposed to end up inside of fitness trackers, home sensors, security cameras, and an assortment of other single-purpose home gadgets. Wi-Fi is already inside of some of those things—like cameras—but getting inside of wearables and sensors is going to be a fight. HaLow will truly need to be a better option than Bluetooth.

The Wi-Fi Alliance won't mention Bluetooth by name, but it implies that HaLow is comparable. "HaLow will provide similar characteristics in terms to battery life to technologies that are out there today," Robinson said.

For more details, visit http://www.wi-fi.org

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